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Getting Started with InDesign

Instructions for the basic tools of Adobe InDesign, which you might use to create a flier, brochure or newsletter.

Adding Images/Graphics

To add an image to an InDesign document, you must Place it, just like we placed text.

  1. Make sure the Selection Tool is selected and go to the File menu and select Place (if you have the Text Tool selected, the image will get placed as part of the text instead of independently).

  2. Navigate to the location of your image file.

  3. Click OK and the cursor will turn into the Place icon. Click in your document where you’d like the graphic to be placed.

To move an image, use the Selection Tool to click and drag it to its new location. 

To hide part of the image, drag the "handles" with the Selection Tool.

To fit a graphic in a specific frame, go to the Object menu and then select Fitting. Choose the appropriate option for your needs.

To add an effect (such as a drop shadow) go to Window and select Effects, and the Effects panel will open, or go to Object -> Effects, and use the dropdown menu provided. 

To resize the entire image by scale, select the image, then go to the Object menu, select Transform, and finally select Scale.  Here, you have the choice to adjust the image on a uniform or non-uniform scale.  If the Link icon (circled at right) is on, the image will scale proportionately. If it is unselected, then you can change either the X or the Y without affecting the other.  You can also use the Scale Tool in the Toolbox.

To move (or to manually resize) images, you must understand how to use the two boxes surrounding them. The brown box, which can be selected using the white arrow only by double clicking on the image, resizes the acutal image. The blue box, which can be selected by clicking on the image with the black arrow, resizes the frame the images sits in. Only the part of the image within both boxes will be seen. The blue box can be useful for cropping images in Indesign. 

To Align an Object/Image go to Window, click on Object & Layout, and click on Align in the dropdown menu. To align objects, select all of the objects you want to align, and then select the alignment option you would like from the Align panel.





Adding Shapes

In addition to placing image files, you can also create shapes. Once you create the shape, you can change the fill color, resize it and so on.

  1. Create a shape by choosing the Rectangle Tool  – click and hold to select the Ellipse or Polygon Tool instead.
  2. Click and hold on your document to create the shape.

  3. If you want a different shape, go to the Object menu, then Convert Shape, then whichever chose you’d like.
  4. To change the look of the shape – for example, to extend one leg of a triangle – choose the Direct Select Tool (the white pointer) and then click and drag one of the "handles".

To move an image, use the Selection Tool to click and drag it to its new location. 

To resize the shape, drag the “handles” with the Selection Tool – hold down the Shift key to keep it proportionate.

To create lines, use either the Line Tool or the Pencil Tool . The Pencil Tool allows you to freehand, while the Line Tool is only straight.

Embedding Images

When InDesign places images into a document it links to the location of the file on the computer, it doesn’t embed it.  This means that if you don’t take the image(s) with you, they may not display correctly on a different computer. To embed the images in the InDesign file, 

  1. Click on the Links Panel to display all the links in the document.

  2. Right-click on the image in the list and choose Embed Link.

  3. A new icon will display next to the file name in the Links Panel.









Wrapping Text Around a Graphic

Similar to Microsoft Word, InDesign allows you to wrap text around a graphic, or have the text over/under the graphic.

Make sure the object is selected. If you can’t seem to select it, it could be because your text is on top of it and the graphic is behind your text. Click once on the text block, go to the Object menu, then to Arrange, and select Send to Back. This will send the selected element (in this case, the text block) to the back, so you can now select the graphic.

Go to the Window menu and select Text Wrap. You can choose different options for wrapping in the dialog box that appears. (Note: The following descriptions are part of Adobe InDesign’s online help.) With your image selected, choose one of the following options:

  • Jump Object () keeps text from appearing in any available space to the right or left of the frame (text will only appear above and below the image).
  • Jump to Next Column () forces the surrounding paragraph to the top of the next text column or text frame. (Note: You may have to specify threading for this to work.  See the Threading Frames section of this handout on page 7).
  • Wrap Around Bounding Box () creates a rectangular wrap whose width and height are determined by the box surrounding the selected object.
  • Wrap Around Object Shape () also known as contour wrapping, creates a text wrap boundary that is the same shape as the frame you have selected (plus or minus any offset distances you specify).

If you'd like the text to wrap to the edge of the content, choose Detect Edges from the Contour Options Type pulldown.  Once you see little dots around the edge of the content (middle picture below), click on the Selection Tool in the Toolbox and click once again on the image. Then go to the Object menu, select Arrange…, then Send to Back (last picture below).

Be sure to remember the difference between the brown and blue boxes surrounding the image, explained in the first section of this page.